Manufacturing News

Innovation in steel rewarded

Steely achievements – Elphinstone recognised with Australian Steel Innovation Award while Freedom Motors edged out a tight field to be awarded highly commended.

LOCATED in Triabunna, Tasmania, Elphinstone Engineering produces trailers for the log transport industry, with the majority of the company’s employees based at its Tasmanian facility.

At last month’s Endeavour Award’s gala dinner held in Melbourne, the company was awarded top honours in the Australian Steel Innovation Category for its 19m Long Logger which is constructed out of Australian made steel.

The project was to design and build a set of trailers to cart the longest logs possible, and still fit with the 26m Tri B-Double mass management rules.

Customers had the need to carry 19m logs in one length in a safe way with a greater payload, but also needed to interact with normal traffic in a positive way without disrupting traffic flow.

The project involved the application of a self-steering rear trailer (making the unit track well with good stability) on a B-Double in conjunction with an innovative lead trailer that can carry 29t payload.

Previously trailers used very long overhang or extended trailers that had poor tracking.

Competitor products were restricted to daylight hours, whereas the trailer is designed to be able to run day or night and can carry up to 50% more payload without the need for a special permit.

The logger features a self-loading rear trailer, which can ride on the rear of the lead trailer for empty running, and operates using a standard prime mover which can be hook onto any other trailer when needed.

Within 10 months of the first trailer hitting the road in January 2008, a further nine trailers were operating very successfully.

The market potential for the logger is not limited to the transport of logs, as it can be utilised for pipes, steel, concrete beams or any other long-length load requirement.

Graeme Elphinstone, the Tasmanian company’s MD, said he was very happy to accept the Australian Steel Innovation Award and told Manufacturers’ Monthly it will help to not only improve the profile of the company, but it confirms to Elphinstone’s customers that the company is doing the right thing and continually innovating.

“It also gives our employees and management a sense of satisfaction that they are a winning team and their hard work and dedication is being recognised.

“It will also help us with our marketing,” Elphinstone said.

He explained to Manufacturers’ Monthly that the project was a collaborative process involving quality work from a number of companies and he attributed this teamwork to the success of the project.

“This project had many parts to get it all together and while this was a challenge, it was also a key factor in the success of the trailer.

the sponsors and the people who worked hard behind the scenes to organise and make these Awards possible – it is very much appreciated,” Elphinstone said.

Highly Commended

Another company that shone through a tough field of candidates to be awarded Highly Commended in the Australian Steel Innovation category was Freedom Motors Australia.

The company has developed the Freedom Van conversion, said to be the ultimate in wheelchair accessibility.

Because the company modifies the floor in the vehicle by dropping it down, wheelchair passengers have easy access to the vehicle by a rear entry fold down ramp.

The design allows the wheelchair to fit between the two row middle bucket seats so the wheelchair passenger can interact with other family members.

Also the view the wheelchair passenger has through the windows is similar to the rest of the passengers instead of having their head high up in a van with only a view to the surface of the road.

The company has also designed additional products like the Freedom Wheelchair Docking system the fits to 95% of all wheelchairs, allowing the wheelchair and occupant to dock and fasten the wheelchair to the floor of the vehicle without the use of the traditional required four wheelchair straps.

Other options are complete drive yourself by transferring inside the vehicle or drive from wheel chair designs with full remote control rear door and ramp system and self drive hand control systems.

All products are designed to Australian Design Rules and are said to often exceed them.

A clearly delighted Robert Van Mullekom, GM of Freedom Motors, accepted the Highly Commended Award on behalf of the company, saying that he was excited and proud of this achievement which serves as recognition of years of hard work and innovation.

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